This is a chronological list of all major literary awards won by Canadian Women Writers since 1937. Legend: BMA - Betty Mitchell Award, BP - Booker Prize, CAMA - Canadian Aboriginal Music Award, CAACBA - Canadian Authors Association (CAA) Carol Bolt Award, CLAB - Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award, CWBFB - Commonwealth Writer's Prize (Best First Book Commonwealth), CWBBR - Commonwealth Writer's Prize (Best Book Regional), CWBFBR - Commonwealth Writer's Prize (Best First Book Regional), DG - Danuta Gleed Literary Award , DMMA - Dora Mavor Moore Award, DWA - Doug Wright Award, ES - Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction, SA - Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards, FSCA - Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award, GA - Genie Award, GLM - Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, GilP - Giller Prize, GG - Governor General's Literary Award, GrP - Griffin Poetry Prize, ICFWC - International Competition for Women Composers, JRTA - Jessie Richardson Theatre Award, JSA - Joe Shuster Award, JA - Juno Award, ME - Marian Engel Award, PLM - Pat Lowther Memorial Award , PF - Prix Femina, PP - Pulitzer Prize, RMA - Robert Merritt Awards, CTP - The Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, OP - The Orange Prize for Fiction, YACB - Young Adult Canadian Book Award.
The Betty Mitchell Awards, named for a pioneer of Calgary’s theatrical community, Dr. Betty Mitchell, were started in 1998 to celebrate and honour outstanding achievement in Calgary’s professional theatre community. Official website: http://www.bettymitchellawards.com/
Since the inception of the Man Booker Prizes’ predecessor, the Booker-McConnel prize, in 1969, women have been nominated and have won the prize; in 2013, the Man Booker has been around for 44 years. Seventeen of the fifty prizes awarded have been to women authors in various competitions for prizes associated with the Man Booker Prize.
Ion Trewin, the Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation maintains that the Man Booker Prize “aims to promote the finest in fiction by rewarding the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland”. With this mission in mind, the award has garnered attention as one of the most prestigious literary awards, and is highly regarded internationally.
First sponsored in 1969 by the company Booker-McConnell, the Man Booker was initially called the Booker-McConnell Prize. Eventually, it became known as the Booker Prize for short. In 2002, the prize gained Man as one its prominent sponsors and adopted its name, thus becoming renamed as the Man Booker Prize. The prize, no matter the name, has been awarded annually since 1969, with some instances of multiple prizes awarded per year.
The judges come from various backgrounds and have included in the past “poets, politicians, journalists, broadcasters and actors”. These judges also include Man Booker authors such as Nadine Gordimer, and Michèle Roberts.
The author of the winning book of the Man Booker Prize is awarded £50,000 (approximately $80,000 CAD in 2013), and their book gains much notoriety as a result of winning the prize.
The first woman to author a Booker winning novel was in 1970 (only the second year the prize was awarded). Bernice Rubens won with her novel The Elected Member. There were also three other women who wrote novels that were shortlisted for the prize that year: Iris Murdoch, Elizabeth Bowen, and A L Barker.
Since 1969, there have been two years where the prize had no female nominees: 1976, and 1991. There have also been two years where there have been two novels awarded the prize. In 1992, Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient and Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger won the prize, and in 1974 Stanley Middleton’s Holiday and Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationalist won the prize.
Hilary Mantel became the first woman to win the Man Booker Prize twice in 2012, winning twice out of three separate nominations. She was first awarded a Man-Booker in 2009 with Wolf Hall, and she won again in 2012 with Bring up the Bodies. Her novel Beyond Black was also longlisted in 2005.
Other women writers on the Man Booker shortlists and longlists multiple times include the likes of Margaret Atwood, Beryl Bainbridge, Muriel Spark, and Doris Lessing.
The Man Booker also hosts an international prize, which “recognizes one writer for his or her achievement in fiction” valued at £60,000 (approximately $95,000 CAD in 2013); the award seeks to “consider a writer’s body of work rather than a single novel,” and considers any writer whose work is in English or is available to read in English. The International prize was first awarded in 2005, and is awarded biannually. Winners have included well-known authors such as Chinua Achebe and Philip Roth. Of the four winners since 2005, Alice Munro is so far the only woman to have won the International prize.
Man Booker crafted a special literary award specifically to celebrate the so-called “Booker Bridesmaid,” the late Beryl Bainbridge, who had previously been nominated five times, but had never won the Man Booker. In honour of Bainbridge, Man Booker created the Man Booker Best of Beryl Award—an award that could only go to Bainbridge. Her novel Master Georgie, her final Man Booker nominated novel, won the award out of her five previous Man Booker nominated books.
Two other specialized awards exist: The Best of Booker, to celebrate the prize’s fortieth anniversary, and the Lost Man Booker Prize to compensate for not awarding a prize in 1970.
Awarded annually, since 1999, to music artists from Canadian Aboriginal communities. Includes several categories.
The Canadian Authors Association (CAA) Carol Bolt Award is for the best English-language play for adults by an author who is a Canadian or a landed immigrant. It was awarded annually from 2002 to 2010 and discontinued in 2011. Official website: http://www.canauthors.org/awards/bolt.html
Established in 1947 and presented annually by the Canadian Library Association, this medal recognizes the author (Canadian citizen or resident) of the best children's book published in Canada.
The Commonwealth Writers' Prize is intended to "encourage and reward the upsurge of new Commonwealth fiction and ensure that works of merit reach a wider audience outside their country of origin"(commonwealthfoundation.com). Prizes (£1,000 each) are awarded in four separate Commonwealth regions, including “Caribbean and Canada" region. Regional awards go to the best book and the best first published book; Regional winners are then judged to determine the Commonwealth winners for Overall Best Book (£10,000) and Overall Best First Book (£5,000).
A $10,000 prize awarded to a Canadian writer for the best first collection of short ficton in English. Established in 2004, the Danuta Gleed Literary Award was initiated by John Gleed in honour of his late wife to "promote and celebrate the genre of short fiction, which she loved" (http://www.writersunion.ca/cn_danutagleed.asp). This award also has second and third prizes of $500 each.
Presented annually by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts which honours theatre, dance and opera productions in Toronto. Named after Dora Mavor Moore, who helped establish Canadian professional theatre. Established Dec. 13, 1978. Awards are given in General Theatre, Opera, Dance, Independent Theatre and Theatre for Young Audiences.
The awards honour the best in English language comics and graphic novels. Awards are given out each year in two categories, "Best Book" and "Best Emerging Talent."
One of the awards with a very high women-to-men ratio of winners is the Edna Staebler Award, a unique Canadian award for creative nonfiction. Wilfred Laurier University attests that the Edna Staebler award is “the only [award] offered in Canada for the genre [of creative nonfiction]”. The award was established in 1991 by Edna Staebler, a “writer and literary journalist” to recognized outstanding work in Canadian creative nonfiction, “with a Canadian locale and/or significance.” It is administered by Wilfrid Laurier University’s Faculty of Arts
In 2012, of the twenty-two awards, thirteen awards—over half—have gone to women. These awards have been presented to authors of biography, autobiography, journalism, ethnography, and essay.
The award cites classic Canadian nonfiction writers as its inspiration, mentioning such writers as Susannah Moody, Farley Mowat, Pierre Berton, Marion Fowler, Harold Horwood, and, of course, Edna Staebler. The award encourages an imaginative, fresh, and novel perspective in works of creative nonfiction. The prize is for $10,000 Canadian, as well as notoriety for the winning book.
In 1991, the first winner of the Edna Staebler award was Susan Mayse, who won for her biography Ginger: The Life and Death of Albert Goodwin. Since, there have been twelve other women writers who have been presented the award, along with eleven men. Two awards were presented in 1993, both to women; multiple prizes have not been awarded again since.
The Sterling Awards were created in 1987 to celebrate outstanding professional theatre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. They are named in honour of Elizabeth Sterling Haynes, director, actress, educator and architect of innumerable theatre programs and schools throughout the province. Official website: http://www.sterlingawards.com/
Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Awards were a Canadian literary award, given to Canadian plays produced by any professional Canadian theatre company, and having at least ten performances in the Toronto area. The prize had a monetary value of $25,000, and was named for benefactor Floyd Chalmers, an editor and publisher. Four plays normally win the award each year. In 2001 the award was discontinued.
Awarded annually, since 1980, to recognize the best of Canadian cinema by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. Includes several categories
Presented anually by the League of Canadian Poets, the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award is given in memory of Gerald Lampert, an arts administrator who organized authors' tours and took a particular interest in the work of new writers. This award recognizes the best first book of poetry published by a Canadian in the preceding year.
The Scotiabank Giller Prize was established in 1994 by Jack Rabinovitch in honour of the late literary journalist Doris Giller. It is awarded annually ($40,000) to the best Canadian novel or short story collection in English.
The Governor General’s Award, called the GG colloquially, is one of Canada’s most prestigious literary awards, and has been awarded since 1936. Beginning with just two prize awarded annually (fiction and non-fiction were the only genres in 1936), the awards now recognize seven genres: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, children’s text, children’s illustration, and translation.
Since 1937, women have been winning the GG, beginning with Laura Salverson’s work of fiction, The Dark Weaver. She was the first woman to win the GG, as well as the first woman to win the prize in the fiction category. She won again in 1939, the second time in the non-fiction category, with her autobiography, Confessions of an Immigrant’s Daughter.
Anne Marriott is the first woman to win in the poetry category with her anthology, Calling Adventures.
Established in 2000 by Scott Griffin, this Canadian initiative is designed to raise public awareness of the role of poetry in society's cultural life. Two prizes are awarded annually ($50,000 each), one to a living Canadian poet and one to a poet from any other country (which may include Canada).
The International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM) holds an annual composition competition for women composers called the "Search for New Music." This international competition includes ten different prize categories ranging from chamber and orchestral works to electro-acoustic media, improvisation, and sound installation. Each prize has its own monetary award. More information is available at IAWM's website: www.iawm.org
The Jessie Richardson Theatre Award Society is a non-profit charitable organization that exists to celebrate and promote the outstanding achievements of the Vancouver Professional Theatre community by producing the annual Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards. The society was formed in 1997, and took over the production of the Awards Ceremony from the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance, who had presented it since its beginning in the 1982-83 season. Official website: http://www.jessies.ca/about.html
The Joe Shuster Awards are given for achievement in the creation of comic books, graphic novels and webcomics by Canadians. Official website: http://joeshusterawards.com/
Awarded annually, since 1970, to Canadian music artists. Includes several categories.
Established to honour the memory of Marian Engel, the award ($15,000) is presented annually to a female Canadian writer in mid-career. In 2008, the Engel award and its companion award--The Timothy Findley Award (honouring male writers)--were discontinued and merged into the new Writers' Trust Notable Author Award.
The Pat Lowther Memorial Award recognizes a book of poetry by a Canadian woman published in the preceding year, and is in memory of the late Pat Lowther, whose career was cut short by her untimely death in 1975. The award carries a $1,000 prize. It is presented annually by the League of Canadian Poets.
The Pulitzer Prizes in Letters, Drama, and Music are awarded annually by Columbia University. Recipients must be American citizens (the only exception being in the History category, in which the book must be a history of the United States but writers of any nationality are eligible).
The Merritt Awards were started in 2002 and are administered by Theatre Nova Scotia. The Merritts honour excellence in theatre throughout the province of Nova Scotia. Official website: http://www.merrittawards.ca/past/nominees-winners.asp
Established to commemorate Charles Taylor's "pursuit of excellence" in the field of literary non-fiction, this prize ($25,000) is awarded to the author whose book "best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception"(
Awarded annually to the best full-length novel in English by a woman of any nationality.
Awarded annually by the Canadian Library Association, this award recognizes a Canadian author of an outstanding English language Canadian book which appeals to young adults between the ages of 13 and 18.